Wexford tillage farmer in the running for ‘Greatest Athlete of All Time’ award

A Co. Wexford tillage farmer is in the running to be named the ‘Greatest Athlete of All Time’ and is hoping for the farmers of Ireland to support him.

This is far from the first time James Kehoe has been noted internationally during his tug of war sporting career, with the Ballycullane man being a world champion, and participating in nine out of 10 of The World Games’ events.

But, this year, he has been shortlisted for The World Games’ ‘Greatest Athlete of all Time’ category. In order to win, he needs the most votes.

Kehoe has won over 100 national tug of war titles, and still competes with his local Boley TOW club, which he founded.

He has been participating in the sport since 1976, when he had “a few older brothers and a couple of cousins and neighbours” that were involved.

He told AgriLand what he has loved most about the sport during the last few decades is “the competition, and meeting other people from other countries”.

“There’d be plenty rivalry on the rope but it would be friendly enough afterwards, so you get to know an awful lot of different people.”

A competition for sports not included in the Olympics

While Covid-19 curtailed any great plans Kehoe and his team members had for the last year, he said that he is honoured to be nominated for this award – “but I’m not one for publicity”.

The World Games is a competition for sports not included in the Olympics. There are candidates from all editions of The World Games, from 1981 until 2017.

Kehoe is up against 23 other candidates, and is the only from Ireland. This afternoon (Wednesday, January 20) the 10 candidates with the most votes continue in the race. The winner will be crowned on February 1.

This event has brought publicity to a sport which Kehoe said has seen a decline in interest over the years.

The amount of teams involved in the last few years is down a fair bit. One time, I suppose, [there was] probably ten times the amount of teams as there is now, but sure that’s the way it goes, it goes up and down.

“It really has to be in the schools to get it going. In some other countries it’s in the schools, like Switzerland and South Africa.”

The winner is chosen by public vote. You can vote for Kehoe via: https://bit.ly/3oRrQPo. He has extended his gratitude to all those who have voted for him so far.